Court Records And Where They Are Kept

Only a handful of online resource sites actually conduct a complete and comprehensive background check. In this episode, Jonathan Kraut informs us regarding the background check process and how records are kept so that we may better determine if these representations are accurate or deceptive. Knowing the court records process and how items are segmented will often help protect someone from making fatal decisions regarding who to hire, who to engage as a tenant, or who to trust. Learn from Jonathan as he gives us some tips on how we can properly request for data and understand the accuracy of such details.

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Court Records And Where They Are Kept

How To Tell If The Statement “All Our Folks Are Background Checked” Is Authentic

This is episode 16, How Court Records Are Kept. Why would you care how court records are kept? Essentially, if you want to find out about someone’s background, their history, whether it’s for tenant screening, trying to identify a caregiver for your child or your parent. Trying to hire someone to bring into your office setting or whether it’s to do business with them, you do want to know what the public record says about their history. Their history contains criminal records, civil and abuse records and other documents and information that are valuable to making your decision as to whether you want to have that person renting property from you, working with you and your staff, caring for a loved one and so forth.

Court Jurisdictions On Doing Background Checks

Net Check Investigations by the way, is licensed under California as a PI number 21529 and we’re an agency that’s been in business over twenty years. First, let’s define what court jurisdictions pertain to doing a background check and getting information from the court. There are federal courts, which is one entire system to itself. There are districts in the court and court information is usually available through subscribers like my firm. I believe we first started subscribing in 1995 and our number is 0142. That’s pretty early in the game. There are state often called Superior Courts. There are County courts, which are more localized. In some cases like Louisiana, they don’t have counties in Louisiana. They have parishes. Finally, we have local magistrate and municipal courts.

Each court system is more and more localized as I went through the list and is a separate index, meaning they’re typically not related to other indexes. Within the court system, there are also segmenting court indexes by case type and I’ll explain. Criminal cases are usually kept in one set of data and files in the court system. Civil cases, typically we call upper civil cases like lawsuits, defamation, damages and major car accidents. Those upper civil cases are segmented into different database in the court. Lower civil cases, which are usually including small claims cases, unlawful detainers, which are eviction notices and minor claims are kept in a separate index system.

Non-Court Index Systems

Property records are kept in a fourth index system, usually by the County recorder. Family law cases are yet another index system and also probate, which is the moving of assets or property after someone passes away to others. Probate court is not pertaining in typical situations to employment or tenant screening or caregiving. Probate is a different system. We have generally 5, 6 or even 7 different indexes at each court. Let’s define non-court index systems. A non-court index system could include entities like state and federal prison where inmate populations are kept in an index system, a data system that’s not at the court or cannot be accessed at the court. That also may include probation and parole indexes who has been released from custody and are they on probation or parole?

The best report is a comprehensive misconduct report, which is criminal history and civil misconduct history nationally all in one document. Click To Tweet

Arrest and sheriff detainee indexes. The sheriff’s departments have their own set of inmate identifiers and inmate indexes, which are not kept at the court. FBI, sex offender, terrorists and no fly indexes. Each of these are separate indexes. Some are kept by the federal government and some are maintained by international enforcement agencies, but usually the FBI is the one that’s going to have this information. A sex offender index is, by the way, are an accumulation of state indexes and could be accessed sometimes in one national system. Typically, many of those states are not online at that time so often you’ve got to go look each state by state in addition to the national system. There is also FACIS, which to be brief is a medical set of indexes and information that are kept at the federal level or by private systems or by the Office of the Attorney General, healthcare providers, medical facilities, welfare fraud and prescription fraud. They are usually we call the FACIS System, which is a separate index of misconduct relating to medical healthcare and prescription fraud and abuse.

Finally, there are credit reporting agencies and private information systems, which are on a private index, which gathers information constantly. Normally, there’s about a 30 to 60 day lag time and no people are actually typing all this information up. It’s done by computer. It’s part of what helps your credit report be created. It’s part of what helps your tracking of what we call skip tracing, where you’ve lived, your addresses and associations. These are non-court index systems. There are many and I’d say probably ten that might be appropriate to relating to whether someone should be trusted or not. Is there one place to look? That’s a question that as a private investigator, I get asked a lot, “Why can’t I push a button and find out everybody’s history that’s relevant to what I want?”

Instant Background Search Concept Is A Failure

As I described, there are about twelve different substantial areas where information is contained that’s relevant to whether you can trust someone or not. There are about twelve different indexes and systems that need to be accessed to identify whether someone can be trusted or not. No, there’s not one place to look. The idea that you can push a button and get an instant search with all the relevant information is not possible. Information is kept in different systems, in different indexes by different entities and therefore, it’s not possible that one can push a button and get all this information at once. Indexes must be accessed separately and individually. I’ll give you an example of how our instant background search concept is a failure.

The FBI, for example, does under the Brady Bill a search for backgrounds to sell a gun and sometimes ammunition. If somebody wants to buy a gun, information is put into the system and the system is a composite of state self-reporting data. States report independently and then the FBI puts it all together and runs an index. States are contributing elements of a phone book to a master phone book. The problem is that not most, but many misdemeanors are not in that system. Domestic violence, unlawful carrying of weapons and abusive behavior is sometimes kept in a civil system and therefore, the FBI doesn’t see it. They don’t have it. You can’t blame them. They don’t have that information on hand in many cases.

Court Records Archive: There’s not one place to look that can identify whether someone can be trusted or not. The idea that you can push a button and get an instant search with all the relevant information is not possible.

Also, counties don’t always send information in a timely way. We have that example of an individual who bought a gun because nobody looked in the criminal index and civil index of the county that he came from. That county did not report that information and the FBI did not see it. Many domestic abuse issues are not in the criminal system and are not reported to the feds. Because it’s organized differently county by county, state by state, and some counties for example, LA County, can rarely be accessed online. Someone has to go to the court and look it up. They have to type in one search as a family law case, one search as a civil case and then another search as a criminal case. There are three different processes for LA County and many counties in California are the same.

Some must be accessed in person. You cannot do it online. Therefore, if many counties in one state are like that, imagine nationally the 5,800 counties, how many are not online, how many are only accessed in person. That’s why there’s not one place to look. Somebody has to go through search county by county, state by state and processes like a good search would be done. Many cases are also archived and destroyed. There are archives, which in many cases are older than 10 or 12 years, but some might be relevant to what you’re looking for. That’s not in an index system either. That’s got to be searched by hand.

The FCRA, which is the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which is a federal act. Every state has adopted a version for that state has reporting requirements. Let’s say that we’re optimistic and we believe that we can push a button and access every index in every county, both court and non-court at the same time, simultaneously in real time. Let’s say that was true. In fact, even then the FCRA requirements are that certain things happen. Number one, cases have to be verified. If a computer generates a possible case number and a name, you still have to check with the court to verify the date of birth is correct and possibly other identifiers like Social Security number is correct.

Another requirement of the Fair Credit Reporting Act is that reports must be available and free upon request to the subject. The subject, the person whom we are checking as for the report, you can’t send to them a large, five-page document of possible hits and possible cases. There has to be some written up, what we call an abstract or a summary of what the case pertained to and that a computer is not going to write that up for you. Plus, the subjects of these investigations have a right to challenge. The computer will not give you the right to challenge a case. There are times where the information provided is inaccurate and the person has a right to challenge it. There should be a way to identify the person who performed the search. The FCRA reporting requirements will often if challenged require that the maker, the credit reporting agency, the maker of the case or the document in our case a PI firm, would have a person that could describe, how did they conduct the search? What did they use? What name, date of birth and Social were accessed and so forth?

Credit reporting agencies must tailor to your needs. Don’t try to fit into what they have but have them fit into what you need. Click To Tweet

A computer won’t do that and instant search won’t be able to identify the person that performed the search because a computer performed the search and nobody actually performed the search. You can’t bring a computer to court to be cross-examined as to how the search was conducted. Support documents are to be retained. An example is, we’ll do a search in a county and we’ll find several cases. Some could be misconduct like civil abuse, harassment and domestic violence. Some might be criminal like attempted murder, possessing a weapon, trespassing and vandalism. We want to have those documents available, the source documents from which we wrote the abstract to be used in cases of challenge or to provide to the person who asked for it as part of their free right to get a report.

Turnaround Time

Turnaround times, how long does this process take? Typically, we would say three business days is the appropriate turnaround time. Since many courts require a live visit, a person would go in. Normally somebody, when a request is made, does not sit at the court in the lobby waiting for an email or text so they can run into the court and look it up. Normally as what we do with our network of agents, which are in every county and every court we give them a list, they go in the next day with the list and do that search that day. They send back the results that day. We then take a look at it in our main office, we write an abstract and maybe we have questions for the clerk, we’ll call the clerk and verify some information. That’s the third day.

It takes typically three days to handle and prepare these reports. Many courts require paid subscriptions. We have live access to a lot of states and a lot of data, but we’ve got to pay each time we access. Sometimes if for example, we were a new company and we didn’t have access to every county in every state, we would have to set up an account. That may take a couple of weeks to get approved, to show our license to prepay and so forth. Normally subscriptions don’t delay an organization that already has these set up. Some courts will leave a list and come back 2 or 3 days later to get the information from the clerk. The clerk will run the search, we won’t and that typically would be 3 to 5 days. That’s pretty rare that we go beyond five, but I’d say again three.

How Background Search Is Conducted

Finally, some jurisdictions require a phone call to verify the name and date of birth. Some courts have restricted access. We’ve got to go through the process of proving to them that we have a permissible purpose, which is a Fair Credit Reporting Act term that we’re allowed to get that information. The quick answer is three days. How searches are conducted? Criminal searches are typically conducted by name and date of birth. Civil searches are conducted by name, especially using a middle name. We had a very common name, I believe in LA County, there were 1,100 cases with that common name, but because we had a middle name, we could reduce the possibilities to about six cases. We didn’t actually go and pull each case file and open it up and read, but we could have and so we reported to the client based on where this person lived. Knowing their residential history based on them being married or not married and based on what we know, we reduced the possibility from 6 to 3. We said, “It’s highly likely but not for certain that these three civil cases apply to this individual.”

Court Records Archive: The courts have ruled that if you do a local report or an instant search or very narrow report, you’re missing valuable information that you don’t pay for but you don’t check.

If the individual wanted to challenge it, we would probably have to go to the courthouse itself, wherever the file was kept. Order the file, go back another day because the file is kept in a basement or in a storage room. Read the file and try to see if the addresses and information in the file match. Again, civil cases are typically not kept by date of birth, only by name and sometimes by address. Civil cases often, if there is significant need to be searched by hand to get identifiers from the actual file. Private data systems use name, Social, date of birth and home address. If we skipped someone, the more of that we have, the better, the more accurate our search will be. The FBI and live scans, which is a fingerprint scan by a state is by name, date of birth and fingerprint, but mostly by name and fingerprint. You’ve got common denominators. Name is important, date of birth is important and generally their Social or last known address is important.

Types Of Reports Generated By Agency

What types of reports can be generated by your agency? When we say agency, we mean the credit reporting agency. A local report, I would have that person probably search local only that one county because you’d know that they’ve only been in that one county. A geographic area report, for example, a statewide report where that person’s lived in several counties in that state. As far as you know, he never lived outside that state. A criminal history report, which is any criminal record in any relevant county in any state including federal, FBI, sex offender, terrorist and no-fly list. That’s a criminal history report. A civil misconduct history report which is anything civil, family, domestic, elder abuse, child abuse, stalking and civil harassment are not kept usually in the criminal system. They are kept in the civil system.

To be honest, the best report is what we call a comprehensive misconduct report, which is criminal history, civil misconduct history nationally all in one document. The courts have ruled that if you do a local report or an instant search or very narrow report, you’re missing valuable information that you don’t pay for but you don’t check. The rule of thumb is that an instant search will give you about 20% of the information out there and it’s about 20% of the costs of a comprehensive misconduct search. There is also something called a due diligence search or due diligence report. This is more for partners or key executives being hired by a company. We want to look for property, bankruptcies, liens, judgments and physical assets in addition to a comprehensive misconduct history report.

How do you get started? First, you want to identify what are your needs? Are you going to be renting to someone? In that case, some things that I mentioned are not relevant. If there are children in the building or nearby, you want to have a sex offender search, you want to do a criminal record search. I would look for a misconduct search because there are children, maybe elderly that have been abused. That again would be indexed in a civil system, not a criminal system. Second is I would consult with different credit reporting agencies, different either PI firms or data brokers to see if they have something that can be tailored to your needs. Third, I would select a reasonable budget. A reasonable budget means, you get what you pay for. I would say a comprehensive misconduct search might run over $150, which includes every name, Social, date of birth they’ve ever used in every county and every state they’ve ever been in for both misconduct and criminal. That’s the typical price.

A comprehensive criminal record search only probably runs around $75, maybe $100. You want to make sure that your credit reporting agency tailors to your needs. I would suggest not to try to fit into what they have, but to have them fit into what you need, then you will only pay for what you need. You want to find a reasonable turnaround time and you want to clarify the reporting process. Three days is a reasonable turnaround time and a reporting process could be by email or by text when it’s complete. Usually email is the best way. I wouldn’t mail reports out, although we can and we do have confidential ways of sending email. They cannot be hacked or traced. That may be a good manner for you to communicate.

The main thing is that you have some system in mind as to how you and your credit reporting agency will share information. I hope that was helpful. My staff and I are always willing and ready to help out. If you have any questions, give us a call. We can be found at We have other podcasts and blogs available if that can be helpful to you. There are a myriad of subjects that relate to domestic violence, to self-protection and to investigation work. Remember, information is power. Good decisions start with great information. We’re here to help you. Thank you for reading.

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Seven Ways A P.I. Firm Can Locate Hidden Assets And Income

It is unfortunately common that a parent will lie about employment, income, and bank accounts just to avoid paying child support, a garnishment, or other obligation. A private investigations firm has several great tools that are court-admissible that can help restore responsibility to those shirking their obligations and debts. Jonathan Kraut gives us the different ways a private investigation firm aid in persecuting people guilty of hiding their assets and income to bypass the system. He provides examples of cases he has worked on before that require them to investigate people’s records, background, and other information to prove the crime.

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Seven Ways A P.I. Firm Can Locate Hidden Assets And Income

Learn How A P.I. Firm Can Find Hidden Assets And Verify Employment

Our discussion is how to locate concealed income for your case. First, let’s define concealed income. I want to mention that this applies to a lot of people who have issues, especially with collections, child support, alimony, spousal support, business garnishments and so forth. Concealed income is defined as a family member, a partner, like a business partner or a romantic partner or associate parent, spouse, a nonprofit volunteer who is either underreporting, embezzling or lying about the income that they are making. The income could be passed through a company. It could be passed through another person. It could be cash. It could be other kinds of earnings. It could be through a business or a personal activity.

It’s basically income that is concealed or not represented accurately. Criminal conduct often does apply to conceal income. The purpose for someone concealing income could be as varied as there are people, but generally, it’s for avoiding child support, alimony or spousal support, tax evasion which is essentially tax-free money, maintaining benefits through the government. For example, if someone makes too much, they will lose some benefits. They’re underreporting their benefit, maybe for government subsistence, for some kinds of funding. When someone is seeking outside support because of underreporting, for example, they want medical care, some government subsidies and they may be lying, it could be for revenge, spite or control to state that they are not making as much money or earning as much income.

Finally, and possibly in many cases, the purpose of concealing income could be for greed to bring in money to themselves. If it’s through a position of trust, it would be called embezzlement which is a crime of felony. In addition to grand theft, there are a lot of crimes associated with taking money or concealing money that is not theirs or should not be concealed.

Seven Ways To Locate Hidden Assets

What does the court need to see? The court does not just say, “You told us they’re concealing money. We’ll assume that what you’re saying is true.” That doesn’t happen. The court will want to see recent or current pay stubs, but with the person who’s earning income, the court could ask for pay stubs or an attorney could subpoena them. The court will get them.

Why is that important? If somebody was working a year ago and they say, “I’m no longer working there. I left the job. I’m unemployed,” a recent bank statement or a recent pay stub that would contradict that, for example, “Two weeks ago, and for every two weeks, for last year, here are your pay stubs. You’ve been paid.” “I forgot about that. I forgot that I was working. I didn’t know.” I’ve heard them. Some of the people in court say, “I forgot I was working. I didn’t know they still pay me.” Bank accounts, bank deposits are great evidence, also current and recent business interaction. For example, one time we had a gentleman who said he was unemployed. His wife was seeking child support for their son and he said, “I’m not working at all. I have no income. I’m destitute and therefore I can’t pay any child support.”

Locating Hidden Assets: Concealed income is defined as a family member or a partner who is either under-reporting or embezzling or lying about the income that they are making.

In fact, we found his business online. We asked him to come to a location to do an estimate on an account. He showed up wearing his logo for the company he supposedly does not work with, driving a car with the logos on the car for the company he no longer works with, offering us a contract with a company he no longer is working with. They gave me three references for recent jobs that he just completed business at which I called, and we subpoenaed them in court. Those individuals showed up and said, “Here’s my contract with him. He’s working on my project right now.” That was fantastic. That’s a recent and current business activity.

Recent usually is within a month or two. Some courts say, “That’s three months ago. Anything could have happened since then.” You want to have it very recent. Recent clients, partners, employees who will state, “Yes, he’s my boss. He just paid me. Here’s a copy of my check.” That would be great. Any recent and personal expenditures related to business or activity, for example, paying a commission or fee or subcontractor are all evidence the work was being done and photo evidence. Another gentleman said, “I’m not working anymore. I’m an inspector and I can’t do the work. I can’t walk and so forth. I can’t pay my fair share.” In fact, we saw him on a construction site with a hard hat and a vest with a hammer belt walking around, checking on other people and we filmed it.

He didn’t know that we were there. When he said, “I don’t work. I swear to that. I say under oath I’m not working.” We showed a video to the judge three days prior that he was on the job inspecting and working. The job that he got, he didn’t report. The judge got pissed. Everything was fair and came outright. The guy was caught and he was very good after that. Sometimes it takes getting caught for someone to be held responsible. Why the attorney is critical is because the right attorney can make or break your case. The wrong attorney can definitely break your case. The attorney that you hire or if you have one should approve what kind of investigation is performed and what the investigation firms should do.

For example, if we were told by an attorney to go and follow this guy and see where he works, film that, that may be one kind of criteria. Let’s say it’s a woman working in an office setting and all we need to do is call her up on the phone, call the business office, film our calling of her that she answers the phone. We can’t record what she says on the other side, but we can film what we say to her and verify that phone number and verify, “Are you so-and-so? I want to send you an email. What’s your email?” We repeat it back to her. “What’s your position?” We repeat it back to her. The filming is of us talking to her. That is admissible in court, but the attorneys would direct us as to how to be effective and what is in their strategy.

Why is the right attorney very important also? They do create a multifaceted strategy. They often don’t say, “Get this one thing,” and that’s it. We want to approach it from several angles so that there’s no way for the other side to squeak around it and to creep past it and pretend that they didn’t know. We want to trap them in every possible way. A good attorney will issue subpoenas. A PI firm like ours cannot issue a subpoena. It has to come from an attorney. That document, that subpoena or witness goes before the court and the court will decide if it’s admissible or not. The court will read the documents that are subpoenaed like bank statements or employment records or pay stubs. The court will also review or interview the veracity, which means the probability that that witness is of value and necessary for the hearing.

The right attorney will provide court-admissible evidence, will prepare for us a list of things to look for and should act with plenty of time in advance. One thing that we hate as a PI firm is to be called at 4:00 and say, “We’ve got three subpoenas. We’ve got an hour to serve them because the hearing is tomorrow.” Attorneys should know a couple of weeks in advance. I’d say 2 to 3 weeks is the right window. Anything under five days is getting tight. Good attorneys are thinking with time on their side to their advantage and they’re not in a hurry. Everything is done methodically. What if that person is not there? What if they moved? We have to have time for those contingencies.

Good attorneys also act with focus. They’re professional. They’re organized. They know what motions to file. They’re not caught by surprise. There should be nothing in court that’s a surprise to a good attorney. They should be ready for pretty much anything. If they’re not ready, it is our job as a PI firm to help them get ready. They also use the information gathered. One horrible story we have is we did catch a woman cheating on her husband with several men. We’ve got a great film. We’ve got testimony. We’ve got hotel bills. We’ve got them making out at the bar. We’ve got all this stuff. The attorney decided he’d rather settle to make some agreement and the client never had their rights represented fully because the attorney who wanted to get out of it was willing to cut a deal. Unfortunately, that happened and we’re very disappointed. We love to gather the information that’s valuable and especially that’s used.

Sometimes, it takes getting caught for someone to be held responsible. Click To Tweet

Any good PI firm will want to have their information used in court. That’s why we’re there. Why is the right PI firm critical? We know why the attorney is critical. They’re the ones in court talking. Basically, the person or agency that executes the documents and subpoenas is a PI firm. Law firms can mail things out and sometimes that subpoena is not admissible. Usually, it must be served in person to somebody, usually to the individual named in the subpoena or to a bank or an employer for records or documents. Mailing it in does not always work and sometimes can be challenged. PI firms will issue the subpoena to a person to execute a real service.

PI firms locate and find witnesses. A lot of times the address is wrong. People are hiding. They won’t answer the door. The Sheriff’s Office knocks on the door and nobody answers. We’ll go above and beyond that and wait for them. We’ll do things to get them to come out. We always know what it would be but I don’t want to say. We also can take statements. We help issue affidavits for the person. Let’s say an individual is a witness in a case about money that’s stolen or business dealings that were concealed. We’ll get an affidavit from a person who will help write it up, give it to the law firm or the attorney to dress it up a little bit and go back and have the person sign it. That may prevent them from having to testify in court, yet the concealed income or money in question has been identified by a third party.

We may run databases looking for DBAs, which is Doing Business As, businesses under other names or other entities, nomenclatures that are somehow missing from a person’s report to the court as to where their income is coming from. We have the ability to run FICA or a broker search for bank accounts under certain circumstances. We can conduct court searches. Let’s say someone is concealing their income by having a business that they didn’t disclose. There are ways for us to find out in any state through the secretary of state and other means that they are in business and we can get certified documents from the secretary of state that is them, they’re in business, and this is the name that they’re going after.

We can get the attorney to issue a subpoena which we’ll serve. The whole thing is wide open and the truth comes out. We can also conduct covert activities, meaning they may not see us filming. They may not know that we’re gathering records and information. They may not know that we’re serving subpoenas until it’s already served. We can also pose as another person. This is exciting. The example that I gave about how I was pretending to be someone in need of services, calling someone to come out and give us an estimate or bid. We didn’t need the services, but we’re pretending that we are in need. That is a perfect example of how the right PI firm can help out.

Admissible Versus Inadmissable Evidence

What does the court consider admissible? Independently verifiable evidence gathered in public view or through proper means is admissible. What do we mean by independently verifiable? It’s a picture that does not rely on our testimony, video or recording. It’s something that the electronic device has captured in addition to us saying that it is true. That’s a good example. A subpoenaed document, for example, pay stubs or it could be their employment file. That’s not based on what we say that’s independently verifiable, that information came from either the bank, the company, brokerage firm or something like that.

Eyewitness testimony, as investigators, we can testify as to what we saw, what we heard, where we were, what time of day was it, where we parked or sitting or standing. That is not hearsay. We were present. We saw it and that is admissible. Witnesses that are eyewitnesses, they are admissible. Video and photographic evidence that I mentioned. A lot of times, a private person, friend or neighbor will go and follow or film. Sometimes that is not admissible. It should be by a licensed agency whose job is to gather information. Private data gathered in an illegal manner, for example, a bank account search or brokerage firm search gathered in a certain way is admissible. We can’t hack into their databases and pull it that way. Once we broke the law to get information, it’s not admissible and subpoenaed records. Those are things that are admissible in court.

Locating Hidden Assets: It’s important when talking about money and concealed income to make sure that all your information evidence is admissible.

The court will often ignore the following: fragments or old data, pieces of information that are incomplete, old records, which could be several months, maybe 3 or 4, photos and videos prepared by non-licensed persons, which could be tainted and maybe it was gathered illegally. Incidental evidence, for example, somebody booked an airline ticket, they printed it out, they left it out. It seems to be for a business deal but we don’t know. We can’t prove that that person flew there. We don’t know why they’re going there. We don’t know if it’s for business or for whatever reason. That’s incidental. We have to tie it all in together to make it something the court will take seriously. Affidavits from persons not in court, a lot of times a person must appear and verify that is their affidavit.

Cross-Examination And Sanctions

Sometimes the court will allow it to go through. Sometimes the other side, by law, should have an opportunity to have that person cross-examined by both parties. Information not provided in time, there are a few cases where information was acquired and was not submitted in the time required through a witness list and so many days where both sides have to name and the witness will appear. That time period was missed and those people can’t show up. It’s important, especially when you’re talking about money and concealed income to make sure that all your information evidence is admissible. What types of rulings might be possible? There could be arrearages with interest.

For example, someone has a child support hearing. It is found the other party has been concealing income for two years. It’s determined what that income is. It’s determined what the proper child support should have been paid. The judge could order that amount plus interest in arrears, meaning going backward, be paid from the time where it was determined that they were concealing income. There’s something called sanctions, which I love. Sanctions are ordered by the court for the other side, the losing party, essentially who concealed to pay penalties, maybe pay legal fees, maybe pay and often the investigation fees. If we were hired, for example, our bill is $2,000 to do what we have to do. If it’s found that the other person, through our work, was concealing, it’s very likely that the party hiring us will get reimbursed by the other party for the work that we had to do to prove that they lied. That’s pretty common.

The court could have penalties. Some penalties could be a multiplier, like 3, 5 or 7 times. I’ve even had ten where the court ordered it. Let’s say our fee was $2,000, the court ordered the other party to pay ten times that amount, $20,000 to the other party for causing them to hire us and pay us to prove that the other party was lying or was concealing income. Sometimes the judge will order or an agreement will be made that the clock starts at the time of the hearing. They don’t go back in time. They just started today. That’s not fair. Let’s say we proved that someone concealed their income for a year, but sometimes the judge says, “It just started from today.” That’s very unfair, but we’ve had that as a common ruling.

The judges don’t often like to go back in time. They just say, “From now on, this is what you have to do.” Sometimes even though we’ve proven our case, there are no sanctions, no arrearages and no interest. Sometimes the judge says, “The tax return is what I use. Even though you’ve proven this person has falsified their tax form, I’m going to go with their tax form.” We’ve had that on several occasions. What we do then is ask the other party to file the complaint with the IRS. The IRS does an audit. The tax forms are amended. The amended forms are given to the judge, and the judge has to go back and make it fair and have the person pay arrearages with interest.

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Providing Additional Information After The Hearing Process

Our situation with locating concealed income doesn’t end with the hearing process. There are some investigations that work extremely valuable, very helpful after the hearing, and I’ll list them for you. Let’s say not enough evidence was provided in the hearing. We don’t just go home and stop. We want to keep going. We want to provide additional information to move the court towards what is a fair and proper ruling. Let’s say that the ruling was not consistent with the facts. We’ve had that on occasion where for whatever reason, the ruling did not equal the facts that we’re aware of. We have to go back, get more and maybe prepare it in a different way so the attorney can say, “There’s new information, new evidence. Look at it this way.” A lot of times, that gives the judge an out perhaps for forgetting or missing something, which is not common.

If it does happen, you want to let the judge come to realize that on his or her own without being embarrassed. We want to prove that rulings were ignored. A lot of times, there are rulings that are issued and the party ordered to perform or do certain things does not do it, we will prove that they did not do it. For example, they’re ordered to make payments and they don’t pay. They’re ordered to pay us and reimburse us for the cost of our work and reimburse us. They’re ordered to reveal more information about their accounts and they don’t do it. We’ll help with that. We also want to keep the opposition compliant. They know we’re watching. They know we’re checking that has a miracle all over it. A lot of times they suddenly get compliant, get better and the opposition does what they’re supposed to do. We want to keep them honest and keep it fair, but we want them to do what the court orders them to do.

We want to gather new information that may not have been previously known. More information may come out later and we want to stay on top of it. Generally, a PI firm will support a client all the way through the case, through the hearing and usually for another year or two, we’re on-call or available to help continue the process, especially regarding what I mentioned. I hope this was informative and helpful. If you have any questions at all, my firm and my staff are available as am I. Our website is where there’s more information. You can also give us a call. Remember that having the right attorney and the right PI firm can make a big difference in your case. Sometimes it’s not how much they charge, it’s how hardworking and how diligent they are. I want you all to remember that information is power. Good decisions start with great information and our firm and other PI firms like us are available to help at any time. Thank you so much.

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Advantages Of Having An Investigator Verified Seal

Not all background checks in organizations are thorough enough to warrant the best profile of an individual. By having a seal, a client is more secure about the quality of work that one provides. In this episode, Jonathan Kraut and Bill Stierle discuss Jonathan’s organization’s trademarked “Investigator Verified Seal” and how it allowed private investigators in his firm to show a higher level of credibility to their clients. What is more, they discuss about its other benefits in the aspects of marketing and business growth. Listen to this episode as Jonathan and Bill talk more about credibility and safety in the organization.

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Advantages Of Having An Investigator Verified Seal

Using The Investigator Verified Seal For Marketing, For Business Growth, And Increasing Your Company Revenue

Jonathan, it’s good to see you again. As always, I’m excited to get into the information that you have provided for us. The transfer of information this way has been valuable to you, your clients, the attorneys that you serve and all the different people that come into your world that makes a big difference. It’s going to be good to start talking about how do you take advantage of the Investigator Verified Seal because a lot of people think they can wing investigations by going online and doing some searches. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about that. How as a California private investigator have you been able to make a big difference with the seal? Tell us a little bit about the seal and what this is about.

A few years ago, our organization trademarked this seal because we wanted to allow our clients to differentiate between those who make invalid claims, for example, on cable, on TV and on the radio. They say our people are background checked and that should be sufficient. In fact, when they say they’re background checked, the reality is they ask them for their driver’s license or they do an instant search, which picks up 20% of the criminal cases, no civil cases and child abuse. They think they’re background checked. Trying to differentiate between a real background check by a real agency and someone who says that we are or we do, they don’t.

I’ve never thought of it this way, but it’s about how do you get trust to take place. How do you get certainty to take place as well as respect that the work you’re doing and the work you’re paying for is going to cover you in a legal setting or in a criminal setting. What a big difference and what a great idea to have an Investigator Verified Seal to create a brand and a trust that can make a difference.

Not that we’re angry at other people for saying that they’re background checked and they’re not, but we’re not trying to encourage that statement without backup.

It’s about truth. It tells the client you care. Tell us about some of the recommendations you give when you are allowing people or having people use the seal.

To use the seal with our organization and perhaps with others is that a comprehensive search must be conducted by a licensed agency and the different levels of comprehensive searches depending on the need. A client of ours can post that certificate on their wall and can tell their clients, “We have a licensed agency doing a comprehensive search.”

Regarding different marketing opportunities, you can use it in different ways.

There are organizations to put our seal on their business cards, on their letterhead. The purpose is to draw attention and to get a question like, “What is that and what does it mean?” which is wonderful because then you can say, “We have a thorough background check on our people.” We don’t sit up and say that they are. We have a third-party agency that you can call and verify that they are.

It’s like the next level of this has been certified. You see many higher quality products do this, that this is certified. This is coming from a very specific measuring agency that can make a difference.

We ask our clients if they’re willing to post them on their promotional material, on their web page. We want their clients or their potential clients to ask, “What is that? What does it mean?” It’s a great differentiation between another organization that doesn’t have anything to support their claim that people are background checked.

Trust and certainty, but reliability that’s going to start showing up. This inviting of questions, this curiosity about what the range of coverage you provide, how does this lead to increasing business? What does this next level allow your clients to do?

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I’ll give you a couple of examples. One is an elder care company. They’re caregivers and they have a chain of offices. They put it on their letterhead and they promote it. They put it in their brochure. They say that all their caregivers are checked by an outside agency thoroughly, which is us in this case. That allows them to, let’s say, outshine the competition. The competition may say, “We check people thoroughly.” “Do you have anything to show that you do?” “Yes, we do.” “Who does that for you?” “That’s secret. We can’t tell you.” That leads to more business because it leads to more trust with an organization that’s willing to disclose what they do and how they do it.

That leads to authority and credentialing. You want their customers to draft off of the respect and the certainty that you provide. It gives us an extra sense that there’s something more going on with this company.

When you walk into a doctor’s office, you’re looking for their certificate, their PhD or their MD, their diplomas, their awards. It’s reassuring the potential client that this is a real organization or real person that’s worthy.

It’s that stamp. What does the seal mean? What are the elements that go into getting certified like this?

When a client of ours wants to use a seal, they’ve got certain conditions. Every member of their team has to be evaluated. We go to two levels, either criminal or a comprehensive misconduct search, which includes criminal harassment, elder abuse, child abuse, the whole thing. In some cases, criminal is sufficient. The point is that an outside licensed agency conducted the search and that we can independently verify that the search was done. We also look for stalking FBI reports. We go into anything that might give more confidence than we’ve checked. The client feels better about our check.

It’s turning over the various different rocks that the information is held underneath. It’s jumping through those extra hoops, which is one of the things that you and your trained professionals that work with you provide.

We know where to look and we know how to get information. We know what rocks there are and we know how to get information from under them.

You also recommend having these things periodically checked too to give that added enforcing trust.

Insurance carriers have told us that every two years, in most cases, is sufficient. A lot of individuals who have been with an organization for a couple of years, maybe somewhere between maybe 3% to 12% will have arrests or convictions after they were hired, especially if they’re relating towards money or taking care of other people or treating coworkers fairly. You want to recheck in some cases like hospitals, maybe elder and childcare. You want to check every year. What if we bring someone in a few years later and something horrendous occurs? It’s in the public record. We don’t know and we assume that that person’s fine. We don’t check what if they do something terrible like they had done before. Maybe not in a business setting, but in a private setting. We should know about that. We shouldn’t assume that anyone working for us is always going to be perfect all the time.

That’s consistency. What else does this seal represent? What are some other things that it does?

It says that a legally-licensed agency performed a search and only licensed investigators can assess character. Therefore, it has to be a PI agency. There is a report on the letterhead signed by somebody in the personnel file of the individual and also, the agency has a copy of that file in case anyone wants to verify.

Investigator Verified Seal: With an Investigator Verified Seal, the odds of being with inappropriate people are very much reduced. People feel safer and more likely to stay at a company that has people like them.

The tracking is there.

That’s important. Let’s say one of our clients says, “My potential business partner wants to know how do we do this and how is it done?” They can call us and ask us directly. They don’t have to guess or make up something. Rather than go to the authority, get the information and everyone should be satisfied.

Relevant counties, states, are you looking all over the place to see where the information is?

We’re looking everywhere. We’re not doing a quick $15 search online, “Are they in the directory or not?” We’re digging for new records, for warrants, for things that might be relevant to the employer or to whoever it is we’re looking for.

How do this seal and your process lead to better recruiting of the staff confidence? What does it take?

What we found out was that a lot of people who want respect to be treated correctly on the job are worried about their coworkers. When they go through a rigorous background check and they pass, which most people do, they are aware that everyone else went through the same thing. The odds of being with inappropriate people are very much reduced. They feel safer and more likely to stay at a company that has people like them.

It’s also reassuring that every year or two years, it’s to promote self-reporting. It becomes safer to talk about bad things that take place, I’m guessing.

When everyone knows that in a year or two they’re going to run another one, it’s likely that someone that had an issue will go to their management or their team and say, “I had an issue,” and deal with it upfront knowing we’re going to find out anyway. Knowing how embarrassing it would be if we disclose it, some people rather come forward. It’s not always necessary to terminate somebody with a record, but if they’re undergoing a legal process, the employer should know and maybe that person needs support. We can’t always judge them as being inappropriate. We don’t know the answer until the case is over.

Is there a standard of accountability then?

That’s right. We’re encouraging a self-reporting in this process and a recheck makes that more likely.

When there is this self-reporting, is this why certain organizations say, “We can regulate it ourselves, but meanwhile they can’t regulate it themselves. In other words, “There’s not enough, I don’t know about. There’s not enough, maybe you can answer this question.” This is an integrity question. Is the industry on a scale of 1 to 10, from high integrity to low integrity? Your organization is going to be closer to high integrity. From 0 to 10, give yourself a ten, maybe a nine, but most likely a ten. What’s the industry, if you do a little navel-gazing with the industry and look at your belly button as the industry? Where is everybody? Are they like a five? How well they track things?

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If you’re talking about online services where you click right now on your phone or go online and find somebody who’s been background checked, I will put them at a 0 or a 1. From our experience, they don’t do anything. They don’t check anything or they might charge a lot of money. There’s one organization that charges $250, $300 for you to do one on yourself, which is way too much. They’re missing a lot of vital items like civil harassment, stalking. They’re missing all that. They’re not getting warrants. They’re not getting new cases. There’s no validation from the agency doing the work. In other words, they do it themselves. They’re in a different line of work and who knows what they come up with.

As far as online organizations go, it’s low and deceptive. Middle of the road, for example, security companies are reviewed. Their offices are reviewed by the state. About 1 in 3 security officers who are approved by the state that have a license and carry a badge are convicted criminals. I’d give the states in that industry maybe a three. It’s a little better to have an organization like a state do it. It’s only in that state and they give a lot of things. In the investigations field, I know a few organizations that do a misconduct search. They do a lot of criminal searches, but they’re not looking for everything. I’d say maybe it’s 6 or 7 overall in our industry where they’re not looking everywhere and they do not want to. It’s a little harder and why do it if people don’t want it?

I can appreciate it. Who can use the seals? Tell us a little bit more about this.

There are individuals who post online their availability for work like contractors, nannies, daycare, and elder care. It could be removing the trash. It could be being a gardener. It could be a plumber. It would be nice to have that seal next to their picture. If they click on the seal, there’s a link to us and we can verify that person was cleared. That’s a good mechanism to create trust and separate oneself from everyone else.

That the business is operating in the United States?

Any organization in the US can use our services.

Jonathan, I’m seeing that who can use this seal are self-employed people, hosting services on the internet at whatever internet directory that the business is operating at. You’re looking for these individuals to take advantage of this next level of certainty that they can translate to their clients, “I’m a plumber. I’ve been background checked. I’m clean on this.”

A lot of people say, “I’ve been background checked.” The question is, “What does that mean?” Mostly it doesn’t mean anything these days. We’re trying to separate the real background checks with a seal, something that can be independently verified with the statement, “I’ve been background checked,” which we find to be not only misleading but a little surreptitious. Again, a lot of these organizations that make that statement don’t have anything behind it to say that they did it other than their work.

How do you get started using this?

With our organization, we have our clients fill out a form or they can ask another organization, “Do you have a seal?” Our clients read and accept the agreement terms, which is you’re allowed to use it for free as long as you check everybody and periodically by a licensed agency. They sign it and we get them started. Usually, if they signed the agreement and they have to go back and recheck their staff, we will need about a month to go through everybody. Live scan or state searchers only check the state you’re in and federal records. We can’t assume that another agency did it correctly and comprehensively unless there’s a signed letterhead. Maybe, in that case, we might accept it as being valid.

It’s a huge difference. It sounds like the JPEG will be emailed and the person could start putting it on different places inside their environment to validate it. What we’re building is respect. We’re building trust. We’re giving some certainty about things.

Investigator Verified Seal: It’s not always necessary to terminate somebody with a record, but if they’re undergoing a legal process, the employer should know and that maybe, the person needs support.

We’re trying to get our clients more business, an advantage in the marketplace. It’s not always the cost. It’s also the services that one provides.

For more information about ways that Jonathan and his team can support you to get greater protection, why don’t we send them to your website and give you a call? I’ve experienced that many times that your staff and you are very open and ready to offer information. That’s huge.

Our email is or go to our website, We have to remind everybody that information is power with good information and great information, you make good decisions. Without information, it’s a hit and miss and so we want everyone to make good decisions.

Jonathan, this has been great. I’m looking forward to the next time we’re together. Until then, more to come.

It’s great. Thank you, Bill.

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Ensuring Safety With Comprehensive Misconduct Research

Ensuring safety should never be taken for granted. No matter where you are, it pays to know who to trust, especially in this day and age where people are becoming smarter. In this episode, Jonathan Kraut and Bill Stierle discuss what comprehensive misconduct research is, and why we need it to make a safer workplace, home, or organization. Not all misconduct is recorded in our criminal databases or is considered criminal by our law. Doing background checks on people can be needed to avoid risks and fear within the group or community we are in. Listen to Jonathan and Bill talk more about comprehensive misconduct research, what it is, and how it can improve safety.

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Ensuring Safety With Comprehensive Misconduct Research

Understanding The Value Of A Comprehensive Background Check And How It Can Help Reduce Risk And From Making Fatal Choices Regarding Who To Trust

This is episode six about protecting yourself with a comprehensive misconduct report. Jonathan, you are a big man regarding distinctions and clarifications about different ways that investigations go. California PI license 21529, and we’re looking forward to learning a little bit more about a comprehensive misconduct report. Tell us a little bit about it.

There are different kinds of background checks. The simplest background check is called an instant search. When you go online and you look for a criminal record, which may or may not be there, it may not check every jurisdiction, but it might get something. The next kind of typical search is a skip trace. We are trying to identify someone’s name, Social, date of birth and addresses and maybe locate other names, Social, date of birth and addresses. That’s usually what in the industry you would consider a background check.

That gives us this introduction to a typical background check. Tell us the difference how this criminal record search using identifiers? How does that thing work?

An identifier is a name. Date of birth, a Social Security number in some states. Usually, it’s a date of birth. If somebody lies about their date of birth and you run their criminal record using a database, you will not find it. For example, it’s common for people with issues, we’ll put it that way, to lie about their date of birth by one day or one year. Unless you skip trace them and verify, you won’t catch that. You’ll be running the wrong date of birth and therefore there’s no record. Date of birth is the main identifier. Some states use Social Security numbers, not many but some do. Sometimes you can verify the date of birth with a Social, like the last four too because there could be somebody with the same name and the same date of birth. There could be 2 or 3 people. It could be somebody the same as you in a different place with the same identifier.

You’ve got to be able to search the appropriateness and have a little more thoroughness. It sounds like some investigative organizations don’t do that level of detail.

The licensed agencies usually do. Go online yourself and run an instant search. You’re going to take for granted that the person who gave you information is accurate and you’re going to take for granted that the database contains relevant information. Remember, 80% of the current and relevant criminal information case records are not in instant databases. Unless you’re in every court in the United States, you cannot possibly know instantly if there’s a case.

Why misconduct search? What does that give us that can help us out a little bit?

Even if somebody searches a comprehensive criminal search, meaning every criminal record in every appropriate county and state and FBI and federal databases, for example, sex offenders and all those things., you’re going to miss a lot of information that you think would be criminal. Misconduct search includes behavior that is not classified as criminal and my audience will be surprised to find out what that is.

How about domestic issues and domestic violence, how do those play into it? 

Often, domestic issues and domestic violence and domestic abuse, even though you would think it would be criminal is sometimes classified and filed as civil or family. I don’t know why that is. The belief is if you harm a loved one, it’s not a crime. Especially in our work in California, we’ll find a lot of it is the order of protection and violations of harassment orders and so forth in the civil record, not the criminal record.

That also goes to follow through with elder abuse and child abuse and certain restraining orders and protection. Those are all in this misconduct search piece.

Elder abuse and child abuse, if you were only relying on criminal records, we’ll be missing a lot of the cases are complaints filed. For example, if there’s a restraining order against somebody or an order of protection against somebody, it’s not going to show up in the criminal case record. Commonly, it will be showing up in a civil case or a domestic case. There are different classifications that the courts use, criminal and civil, family law, probate and sometimes other cases are separated from each other. The point is misconduct, which you would consider criminal typically will be found in a criminal record search. Some regarding family members, the elderly and children are not.

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The system needs a little bit of work to pull the database and get some clean lines of distinction from state-to-state, from county-to-county. There are still some struggles there.

Not only struggles, California for example, but the counties also do not share information. You cannot go to one place in California and find out all the criminal records, civil records, harassment and family cases in California in one place. Not only that, you can’t find them in one county. You’ve got to look in different directories in that same county. To do a thorough search, you’ve got to check each of those relevant types of records in every county and in every state and at the federal level. There are other sex offenders by state, sex offenders nationally, Bureau of Prison records. It gets pretty hairy.

Jonathan, it sounds like we talk a lot about infrastructure. This is very much a part of the infrastructure update that needs to take place in the criminal justice system. Am I guessing that right? 

You are but it won’t happen in our lifetime. They’ve been working on this for many years. I’ve assisted some counties like Los Angeles, Mira Copa and others in trying to organize these things. It’s horrendous. Getting through budgetary considerations, people don’t understand it’s a tough process. We’re not going to see it.

The political piece and the financial piece are going to keep PIs an essential item to find the data that’s necessary.

It’s difficult to navigate this if you’re unskilled and have no background in it. I can’t imagine. We work with hundreds of counties every day. We know these counties and even then, we have trouble and we have to double-check. The court, you checked every data. It’s a lot of work.

It’s a lot of hands-on stuff. It sounds like incidents of civil harassment and stalking also can fall through the cracks as well as drug rehab and diversion or probation stuff slipped through. 

With stalking, most agencies tend not to want to prosecute anyone for stalking. They tend to blame the victim, “You’re too pretty. You’re too smart, it’s your fault. Why don’t you tell them to go away?” Without understanding that a stalker is interested in rejection, they’re not interested in affection. They’re trying to get revenge on somebody by being rejected and they’re working for revenge. The individual has to file a suit against them or that record may not be in a criminal system. It may be in a civil system. You’ve got to check that system for any misconduct relating to stalking or annoying or making phone calls, stuff like that.

That’s a tough go. I’m thinking from a mental health perspective. That’s a part of my thing that it is important to get this misconduct piece and capture people or to identify people that are struggling in a mental health way. See if we can guide them and keep them away from people in that vulnerable place.

A lot of these records, because they’re divided by type in local courts, if you do a criminal search, you’re missing significant information that probably could change the outcome of hiring someone or not hiring them. Being related or having some relationship with them or even having a neighbor with issues and you don’t find anything criminal and you think, “It must be me. They don’t have an issue.” They may have it, but it may not reside in the criminal system an issue or a record that you could identify.

That’s a big difference. What if a person, an employee or somebody, fails to undertake a comprehensive misconduct search? What are some of the elements here? We have a few of them here that we can carry over.

Let’s say that you are a landowner and you own an apartment building, and in that apartment building you have children. I would recommend doing a misconduct search, not only to find out if the person is a sex offender and abuses children. They don’t want them to move in next door to the kids. If they were ordered by the court to stay away, if they have civil harassment issues, if they’ve harassed people, if they’ve been ordered to attend some classes, that may not show up in the criminal system. You don’t want as an employer to have an unsafe workplace. Let’s say that there are civil harassment charges by a company or by an individual against someone for the misconduct at the workplace. That’s not going to show up in the criminal system. The person who brings someone into a setting, like if you’re dating someone and you bring them into your family, if you’re renting an apartment, if you’re hiring someone to work with others, you need to look at all the things relevant to their character and their conduct.

Comprehensive Misconduct Research: 80% of the current and relevant criminal information case records are not in the instant databases.

There’s a lot of protection that’s necessary. A lot of times we scare people and people get scared about this thing. It’s the value regarding safety and if we do some gentle safety pieces would have to be as scared. We’re verifying what is happening with the different individuals in our world.

Let’s say for example, you leave a loaded gun in daycare on a table. That’s the same to me as hiring a caregiver or a babysitter or a daycare person that has been convicted of and being sued for child endangerment and sexual abuse. It’s the same thing. It’s not hard to call up someone like us and say, “Can you do a comprehensive misconduct search?” It costs a little bit more. What it does is removes the liability from the person who brought that other person into their setting, removes their liability by doing a thorough search. How would you like to do an unthorough search and something goes wrong? Something that the court and the public and a common sense person would say should be done and you don’t do it. There’s no reason to be scared more be satisfied. You pay a little more and get something that gives you certainty and gives the workplace or your family or building safety.

I could see that the liability piece is important. If you ignore the signs of unwanted character traits, if you’re going to increase the likelihood of lawsuits that are coming in your direction, the increased likelihood of internal theft embezzlement by doing a comprehensive misconduct search can make a big difference because there’s a protection element.

There’s also a preventive element. I don’t know how many DAs have told me they only embezzled $50,000. Take it to a civil court. It’s an internal matter. We’ve supported clients with gathering information for the police because $50,000 or $100,000 isn’t enough to go after them. However, if you steal a bicycle on the front porch, they’ll go after you but if you embezzle and write checks to yourself or use credit cards or collect cash in a non-authorized way, law enforcement tends not to care. You want to prevent that from even happening. Most losses by employers are not from shoplifting, but are from internal and employee theft.

This is that whole idea. If you steal a candy bar, it’s possibly a third strike. Whereas if you are an internal employee and you lift $10,000, it’s a white-collar crime and who really cares?

The law enforcement says it’s not a crime. It’s a civil matter. You hired them, you brought them into your environment, go after them. It’s not our problem. You don’t get any cooperation from them lately. Maybe in some places you do here and there. We were even told by the FBI that if it wasn’t $1 million, we’re not looking at it. It’s not enough to worry about, not to encourage people. If you get a PI agency, they can dig this out. They can put the case together for the feds to take it because often they’ll want you to do the work and then they’ll take it. The best way to go about it is to keep these people away from hurting you and the people around you.

It’s a big difference. What should be included in a comprehensive misconduct search? There’s a couple of different things.

The first step is to do a broad skip trace, which isn’t simply verifying their name, date of birth and Social. It’s all the names, dates of birth, Socials they’ve used anywhere that they’ve lived that you can track. That gives you a broader scope. When we do a search, we look for every date of birth that we can find. If they lie about one name, one date or one day or one year, we can find it.

The second one sounds like a live search by an agent, not a computer printout.

A computer is not going to be able to discern whether someone changed their names or their date of birth slightly. A computer’s not going to be able to verify with the court that a case belongs to them. It’s only going to do a printout and you cannot bring the computer to court. You can’t have them testify on your behalf. While it’s a good starting point, it’s by no means thorough and doesn’t put together the little pieces that are missing.

It seems like there’s a level of thoroughness that’s needed that you almost have to search every local court, county, state a state of relevance.

You’ve got to check everywhere that you know they’ve been and if you don’t look everywhere they’ve been, how would you know what’s there? Sometimes people move county-to-county or state-to-state because they know that people usually order a search of the current state that they’re in. If they’re from out of state, most agencies that do the hiring or rent to new tenants or have caregivers only checked the county or state that they’re in.

The insurance companies are happy to offer a discount when risk is lower because to them everything is all about risk. Click To Tweet

It’s like you need to look under. There are these different rocks you need to look under. If you look under each one of them, you’ll see if there’s anything underneath there. If there’s nothing underneath there, you’re good, but it’s almost like you know where the rocks are that you need to turn.

Let’s say there are twenty rocks. If you do an instant data search, you’ve turned over one. What about the other nineteen? Since we do that all day, we have a staff that does thorough criminal background checks and thorough comprehensive misconduct searches all day. We know where to look. We know what codes are, what penal sections are, what civil sections are. We know what that means. We’re looking for criminal records, warrants, new cases that may not show up in a database. Most new cases aren’t in databases and civil records, lawsuits, pending lawsuits, things on the horizon that may be a normal person wouldn’t know what to look for or where to look for it. We’re looking in family and domestic records, not criminal. We have criminal records, civil records, family records, domestic records and all those searches are part of a comprehensive misconduct search.

It’s the money that’s well spent as what rocks to look under and how do you know you’re done looking at that rock.

You can look at a database as well. We use lots of databases. Sometimes we find things that make it easier. If we have a case number, a date file, we can pull the case more quickly. In an instant database search itself is an issue because it gives the illusion that something was done. If it’s not thorough then it has no value. It’s like saying, “Please X-ray my hands so I know my body as well.” You need to X-ray the whole body to know the whole body as well.

What is it an average cost here for a comprehensive misconduct search? What does it usually take?

We usually estimate between $125 and $175. This is the current price and it’s subject to change. It’s probably not going to go down. It will probably go up. That’s a normal range that you’d expect to pay.

That makes a lot of sense. I noticed it says per person. Does that mean that you and your agents are spending a good amount of time looking under these rocks and that simple fee gets you there?

We have to pay databases and access fees and review. We have all our agents reviewed by another agent what we call the lead agent to make sure it was done correctly. We spot-check, we check the records, we check the documents to make sure they did everything and to some of our friends out there, avoid paying for this search by name. Let’s say someone has three married names and their maiden name and then you’ve got four names and that can be $500, $600. It should be one price to look at everything for a flat rate for a person. How many names there are, that’s where to go.

How long does it usually take?

It usually takes three days. The reason is let’s say we get the request in the afternoon on Monday. It’s got to be searched by computer first and skip trace. My tip is half-hour to get to it and then another twenty minutes to go through it. It’s going to go out to different counties. Some counties can only be accessed in person. We send it to our network of agents around the country. Those agents will go to that court and look under those directories and databases or sometimes give the list to the clerk and then come back the next day and get the list back from the clerk and then report to us then we write a report. Three days is the right time to do a thorough search.

I’m noticing here that it also says some insurance carriers will lower premiums. That means it’s almost like money found. You’re going to lower the premium, you’ll definitely get your $1 at a $25, $75 back.

Carriers have an actuarial table that denotes risk and if you prevent to the best of your ability improper people from having contact with assets or with others, it goes down. If any of you out there are friends who are interested in doing a comprehensive search and your insurance company does not give you a discount, call me and I will make sure they do something for you. I will prove to them that the risk for loss and injury is much lower because you’re weeding out people that normally would not be weeded out.

Comprehensive Misconduct Research: The risk for loss and injury is much lower when you do a comprehensive search because you’re weeding out people that normally would not be weeded out.

The insurance company reading that would make a big difference from somebody that has the experience that you do.

The insurance companies are happy to offer a discount when risk is lower because to them it’s about risk. If we can lower the risk of injury or theft or some misconduct, it’s better for them as well.

There’s a big benefit to this. These are different ways you can even promote yourself as somebody that is in this safe environment.

For example, we have an investigator verified logo, which is trademark and our clients are allowed to use that on their information, on their publicity, on their letterhead and other places and saying, “We have an outside PI agency license doing a thorough investigation.” That gives you confidence that an independent licensed organization has checked these out, especially for caregivers, for childcare, for organizations handling money and credit cards. It’s huge to have that. You can get more clients and get more business if you can demonstrate that you’re doing everything right.

Client confidence goes up. Our ability to make it a safer environment for employees goes up. That’s a big piece to it. It is cost-effective in the long-term. It’s more of a long-term play for sure. 

One example is you can do an instant search for some criminal records. Maybe 20% of the records that exist are in this database for $15. Some rideshare companies do this for $5. They’re not looking. There are some people who are international terrorists who are on the no-fly list who are sexual predators because they didn’t search county by county, state by state or the federal system in every district, then they’re liable being sued because they’re unwilling to spend the money. It’d be sure that the person doesn’t have anything that would prevent them from being at work. My message to these rideshare companies is to call me.

There’s the ownership that can have some comfort in knowing that they’re covered because they’ve been screened. 

How would you like that to run an elder care business with 40 people on your staff? All you’ve done is the state live scan, which checks criminal records in that one state. They’ve been convicted of elder abuse in other States, if they’ve been sued by individuals because of misconduct or mishandling or mistreating the elderly or the impaired, children. You don’t want them under your employment.

For somebody reading this blog that says they want to engage a private investigation firm before screening. What are some of the questions?

First, does the firm perform a comprehensive misconduct search? If they don’t know what that is, move on. If they say, “We do a full criminal record and we check every criminal record.” That’s half of it. What about the other half? If they don’t know what that is, go on to the next person or next agency. The next question would be how many years back do you go for search? Though most states believe that seven years is adequate, you’ve got to go back 10 or 12 to find out if anything’s in that seven-year scope because the scope begins the seven years at the end of the sentence. They were convicted of a crime, they were in prison for five years. That 5-year-period might end up within the seven. Also, if they don’t go back far enough, something relevant, maybe they’re not even looking. Let’s say we have an eldercare or childcare or credit card access, we want to go back fifteen years at least to go back and be sure there’s nothing that might be relevant.

The turnaround time also could be helpful too. If it’s over three days, then they’re not maybe present to what needs to be done.

There are contractors for the federal government. I used to work in that area where their background checks take three months. I don’t know why, unless they wait three months to start. Maybe three days shy of three months. We’d done three days. Sometimes it takes longer because you’ve got to order the file. It’s in the basement of some accounting clerk. Some clerk’s office they’ve got to go pick it up, bring it out, an agent has to go get it and make a copy or read it through. It might take a little longer, but usually three days is enough. They should be licensed. The PI firm has to have a state license to operate and to assess character. If they can’t assess character, there’s no reason to ask them to assess character.

You can obviously get more clients and get more business if you can demonstrate that you're doing everything right. Click To Tweet

By asking this question, you could also add in there maybe, is the report free to the person that is doing it? It might be a good question to screen the organization.

If they don’t make a free report available to the person who’s the subject of the search, you’re not following what we call the Fair Credit Reporting Act. They’re not complying with that Federal and State Act that subordinate to that. A copy has to be made available. A copy of the report is not a database report. It reports on a letterhead by an agency licensed to do this and it should be signed or identifiable back to an individual that prepared the report.

How about the letterhead stuff? Is the report signed or on the letterhead? They’re putting their name behind it sounds like?

There’s an agency that can be addressed. We have insurance to cover us if we do something dumb, but luckily we haven’t had that. After many years, I’m happy to say we’re looking forward to a much better. We’re going to do a thorough job. We may not be perfect. We have many ways to recheck ourselves. We’re eliminating the chance of error to some infinitesimal number instead of maybe an 80% error if you do an instant search. It’s worth the money and it should be on letterhead. It should be signed by somebody.

You’ve stressed many times on these shows about having a licensed PI agency. Why are these different that they have a clear view of what you know is in your CMS? Tell us a little bit about why this is valuable.

A CMS is what we call a Comprehensive Misconduct Search, and before anyone that employs an agency, you want to be clear to them what it is you’re looking for. If you say, “I want to no criminal record information only and I want it in one county only and I don’t want to go back before seven years.” It will be cheaper and protect that company or that person making requests. You want to be clear that if you want to look for misconduct wherever you can find it, then that’s what you want. PI firms aren’t always licensed. Sometimes they call themselves detective agencies or data search agencies or whatever. That’s not going to hold up in court.

The key fact is there needs to be a waiver signed by the subject, the person that they’re searching is on, they have to know that it’s being done. Unless an attorney asks you or it’s for a criminal case or civil case where there’s an issue, a case number going, somebody has to sign that document that says, “Go ahead and check on me.” You need to give them a free copy of the report if they want it. Usually people who don’t have anything don’t want it. There’s nothing. How do you pay? Sometimes they say, “Sign up and do 45 searches in a month for $10. Who’s going to go to court for you?” Is it on the letterhead? It’s not. You want to pay either on a volume scale or by an individual scale, but don’t do subscriptions and monthly payments.

That usually means that they’re interested in the subscription fee, not in paying for what they do or may not really matter. You want to make sure that you allocate three days. If you can’t wait to hire someone in three days, you’ve got to hire them now or rent to them now, start three days early and then you’d be fine. You’ve got to give that time for the proper search to be conducted and then have a point of contact at your organization and their organization. The same two people are talking to each other and are up to date on what’s going on. PI firms should have one person that deals with that one client and makes life much easier. Anyone picking up the file will not know the history of what’s going on. Only the person that has experience and knowledge and some compassion for that client will be able to handle it well.

Those are all important values. The point of contact and it’s significant. Tell us more about how people can get connected to you and your company so they could access your services.

Our firm is Net Check Investigations and our website is There’s a list of other shows and blogs on there for your review. Anyone that has a good question like, “What do I do?” That’s a good question. Please give me a call, myself or my lead agent or my office manager can direct you or help you. If you need an attorney or not sure what to do next, we’re happy to offer our ideas. We’re not saying that the case always goes the way you want it to go. The evidence will help it go the way it should go. Being preventative in mindset before you go out the front door, check the weather, before you get in your car make sure your tires are there. Little simple things that you would normally do. What we’re saying is prescreen thoroughly and comprehensively. We recommend a comprehensive misconduct search so that you’re sure that the right person or at least the person that you bring in to an environment has nothing that would hurt others or nothing that you could use to detect their misconduct in the past.

Jonathan, this has been informative and the information here has been valuable. I feel a great sense of certainty that you and your team make a bang-up job on this thing and for people to at least call and have an exploratory discussion with you would make a big difference. That they can get their minds used to what the things they’re looking for and how you could provide the service can make a big difference. 

We know that information is power and good decisions start with great information. Our role is to provide that information and support and we want everyone to be successful and safe and happy.

Comprehensive Misconduct Research: Do a comprehensive misconduct search so that you’re sure that the person that you bring in to an environment has nothing that would hurt others.

Thank you, Jonathan. We’ll see you at the next episode. 

Thanks, Bill.

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